Bob Odenkirk’s character Saul Goodman is now very well known for his role in AMC’s hit shows Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul (Read more here.) His portrayal seems to play into many of the best and worst aspects of what an attorney can be. We’re going to take a closer look at Goodman’s character and other famous television shows and movies and determine how best these fictional attorneys act. By comparing these characters to the real life practice of the law we can determine more about how an attorney can and should act to help their clients.
The Law Practice Itself
Saul Goodman’s practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico looks like a somewhat conventional one:
- Tucked into a strip mall;
- It is a simple office space with a waiting room chock full of injury victims.
Goodman is introduced after Jesse Pinkman’s associate, Badger, needed an attorney to assist getting out of a charge of selling methamphetamines.
In the words of Pinkman:
“Sometimes you need a criminal lawyer. Sometimes you need a criminal lawyer.”
A Slimy, Loyal Legal Representative?
Goodman’s character is seem as largely slimy but loyal to his clients. He keeps information in confidence for both Walter and Jesse even when the police and cartels are on their backs. He gives them advice that consistently keeps them out of jail and assists Jesse in hearings with the police.
He also offered both of them the opportunity to get out of New Mexico when it appeared that they could be killed. Goodman also served as Skylar White’s attorney during the divorce process and assists her and Walter in buying the car wash that he used to work at.
Skill and Humor
Goodman’s character was a mix of skill and humor. There were also multiple instances when he had to bluff his way out of issues, all to the tune of thousands of client doctors. He does violate the law many times, and is able to keep the police away from his clients. Jesse’s statement about a criminal lawyer was more accurate than he could have ever known.
- Lying as a Humorous Art
Now, there are also many negative roles that Goodman takes as well. He constantly changes his commission price and is caught multiple time lying to his clients. He also tampers with evidence and is generally very fearful of cartel violence. At the end, he agrees to flee New Mexico when it appears that things are nearing its end.
Goodman’s character, including his wit and humor appeared to be just about the perfect attorney for Jesse and Walter in the series. Whether or not we would hire the same attorney for a traffic ticket or an injury claim– I’m not as sure. He does seem to win quite a lot for his clients and always makes time– even when he is in hiding. He might not be the type of person I’d hire in regular conditions but if he were an ambulance chaser, he’d be quite a pro, and he sure made AMC’s series successful.